Destroy cancer from the inside. Nanotechnology in the service of medicine

Immune therapies are the hope of revolutionizing cancer treatmentow. Scientists seeking effective cancer therapies have long thought it possible to harness the immune system to fight the disease. Despite many prob failed to force the comorec of the immune system to attack a comocancerous tumors. And that’s partly because there is a mechanism in the human body to stop the lymphocyte’s actionow before attacking the tumorow.

The functioning of this mechanism and the wayob, how to outsmart it was discovered by American James P Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo, whooers last year were honored with a Nobel Prize for their research. Their work helped slow down „brake” allowing the immune system to attack the tumoroin tumor.

Nobel laureates studied located on lymphocytes – comorks of the immune system – CTLA-4 receptors. It is through them that it is possible to bypass the mechanism that stops the immune system’s response and, importantly, stimulate the system to effectively attack the comotumor cells. They also studied receptors called PD-1 – known as checkpoints. They proved to be a breakthrough in the fight against melanoma or lung and kidney cancer. Drugs developed based on this research, the so-called “cure-all”. point inhibitorsoIn control have proven to be extremely effective.

But why is there a mechanism in the human body that inhibits the immune system from attacking tumorsow? To prevent the body from attacking itself. Cellsocancer cells for lymphocytesoT cells look like other cellsork of the body and pose no threat, so they are not attacked. Recognition role, whether the comorka is "alien" or not, are fulfilled by the aforementioned receptors. Developed by Nobel laureateoin the antibody helps inform the lymphocytes what they are actually dealing with.

However, the Nobel laureate’s approachoin inhibiting the comorks cancer from shutting down the immune system, is just one way ofoin exploiting the body’s natural defenses against the deadly disease. Teamoł bioengineeroat Vanderbilt University developed a slightly different method to give the immune system a boost in the fight against cancer. American scientists have developed a nanoparticle thatora penetrates into the comorec of the immune system infiltrating tumorsor and orders them to start fighting. Preliminary tests of the new method have yielded promising results.

A description of the nanoparticle’s action appeared in the pages of „Nature Nanotechnology”.

– Cancers are quite complex and have evolved in many waysow to avoid detection by our immune system. Our goal is to arm the immune system with tools thatore are needed to destroy the comorks cancerous tumors,” said John T. Wilson, one of the authorsoin the publication.

– Block the pointoin control is a breakthrough, but despite the huge impact it has had, there are many patientow, whichos patients do not respond to such therapy. Therefore, we have developed a nanoparticle thatora finds a tumor and applies to it a specific type of molecule thatora is naturally produced by our body to fight cancer – Wilson added.

The molecule mentioned by the scientist is called cGAMP (cyclic guanosine adenosine monophosphate) and is the best way to activate the signaling pathway of the interferon stimulating gene (STING) protein. It is a natural mechanism thatorego the body uses to trigger an immune response against viruses or microbes, but also against cancer.

Wilson explained that the developed nanoparticle delivers cGAMP in a mannerob, whichory triggers an immune response inside the tumor, causing the formation of lymphocytesoin T, ktore can destroy the tumor from the inside, as well as improve responses to point lockingoin control.

Teamoł researchers led by Wilson have focused on melanoma, but their work indicates roalso that the nanoparticle can also tackle other cancers, including breast, kidney, head and neck, germ cell neuroblastoma, colon and lung cancer.

The nanoparticle was constructed using an „intelligent” polymerow, whichore responsive to changes in pH. Initially, the design work was unsuccessful, but over time, after about 20 design refinements, the researchers finally succeeded in developing a suitable nanoparticle thatora was able to deliver cGAMP and effectively activate STING in the comorks of the mouse immune system, then in mouse tumors and finally in probkach human tissues.

– It’s really exciting. One day this technology may succeed and effectively treat the patientow,” said Daniel Shaw, a member of the research team and cooauthor of the publication.